How to protect your information if your phone or laptop is lost or stolen

How to protect your information if your phone or laptop is lost or stolen
20th November 2023

A survey carried out on 1,000 smartphone owners by showed that, on average, people will lose two phones in their lifetime. Those aged 25 to 34 reported having lost three phones so far on average, with almost half of misplaced handsets left either in bars or restaurants, or on public transport.

Smartphones and laptops are also attractive targets for criminals, as they can be easily carried, concealed and sold on, and may give access to a huge amount of valuable personal information.

In England and Wales in 2022, computers and computer equipment were stolen in almost a quarter of all burglaries, while phones were taken in 12% of incidents. In London alone, there were around 91,000 reports of phone theft last year – that’s an average of 248 every day – with the phone being returned in only 2% of cases. And, according to security software provider, Norton, over 97% of stolen laptops are never recovered.

So, if your device is taken, unfortunately you’re highly unlikely to get it back. That means as well as making it hard for anyone other than you to access your information, it’s important to have back-ups so you don’t risk permanently losing your files, contacts, etc.


5 ways to protect your data

  1. Use two-step verification or biometrics to log on and access important accounts. Where passwords are required, make them hard to guess and have different ones for each account – these can be stored in a secure password manager.
  2. Encrypt your data. Some laptop and phone models have data encryption settings installed as standard, so make sure these are turned on.
  3. Back up your laptop and phone regularly. Cloud storage solutions can do this automatically and enable you to access your files immediately from another device.
  4. Note the make, model and serial number of your device to help police track it down if it’s stolen.
  5. Turn on a tracking feature that can identify the location of your device in case it’s taken or left somewhere.

Protect yourself financially by taking out insurance

Our own Contents Insurance for Tenants covers theft of laptops and phones from your rented home – and, in some cases, theft from another location in the British Isles if you have temporarily taken them away from home. (See 3.1, section B of our policy for more details.)

If your laptop or phone are particularly valuable, there is also the option to add ‘personal belongings’ cover. This will insure you against theft, loss or damage to your laptop or phone anywhere in the world, up to a specific amount, provided this is shown on the insurance schedule. With around three-quarters of laptop thefts occurring in public places or during travel, it could be well worth taking out this additional cover.

If you would like to discuss insuring your belongings, simply call us on 01903 890044 or email and one of the team will be in touch.

Steps to take if you lose or have your device stolen

  • Report it to the police. They will record the incident and give you a crime reference number that you can use to evidence any insurance claim.
  • If you have a tracking feature on the device and it has been stolen, don’t try to retrieve it yourself, as this could put your safety at risk. Instead, give the information to the police.
  • Report the theft or loss to your insurer.
  • If it’s a company laptop or phone, inform your employer so they can follow their own security protocols.
  • Check whether your device manufacturer has a hotline to report stolen items.
  • Change your passwords for accounts accessible via the device. If it was enabled for two-factor authentication, remove it as a ‘trusted device’.

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